East Bay Raceway Park
Owens claims first leg of East Bay doubleheader
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 16) — Two-time defending series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., drove around race-long leader Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., on a lap-15 restart and led the remainder of Saturday afternoon’s 35-lap Dart Winternationals feature for a $7,000 victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series non-points race that was postponed from Thursday. | Complete Speedweeks coverage
O’Neal settled for second in the event, which was the first leg of a Saturday doubleheader at the East Bay’s third-mile oval. The runner-up effort lifted O’Neal to the lead in the chase for the $5,000 payday that’s to be awarded to the highest points earner when the Tampa-area dirt track’s six-race miniseries wraps up with Saturday night’s $10,000-to-win finale.
Eric Jacobsen of Seacliff Beach, Calif., was third at the finish with John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., rounding out the top five finishers.
The fifth-starting Owens moved to fourth on the start of the race and later moved ahead of second-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., for third before the race’s first caution waved for Erb's flat tire on lap 15.
After watching Erb run the high side for the race’s first 10 laps, Owens took his turn on the top from his outside row starting spot in the double-file restart formation and powered around both Blankenship and O’Neal in the race-winning move.
“I seen Erb running up there and I thought we were a little better than him,” said Owens, who earned his second-career Winternationals victory and his 37th Lucas Oil Series win. “Blankenship chose the inside for the restart and I thought that was good — just what we needed.”
O’Neal, looking for his second consecutive victory after recording his 15th-career Winternationals win in Friday’s race, attempted to challenge Owens on a pair of restarts in the second half of Saturday’s race, but he couldn’t keep pace with the leader. His second-place finish was his fourth top-three result in five Winternationals races this week.
Jacobsen and Blankenship both earned the second top-five finishes of the week, while Coffey posted his first top five and second top-10 run after finishing seventh in Friday night’s feature.
After initially dropping back to fourth, Erb, who entered the race leading O'Neal by 35 points in the Winternationals points chase, made things interesting in the race’s opening laps with a high side run back to the front.
With O’Neal, Blankenship and Owens all running the bottom groove, Erb powered back to second and pulled even with O’Neal exiting turn four on lap nine. But that was as close as Erb got to the lead as O’Neal pulled back ahead and Erb jumped the cushion exiting turn four three laps later.
The miscue dropped Erb to fifth and his flat right-rear tire a few laps later brought out the race’s first caution. He pitted and returned to finish 19th, but the disappointing result cost him the lead in the Winternationals points.
The race’s second caution waved one lap later for a turn-three pileup involving among others Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif. Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., spun to bring out the race’s third caution on lap 25, and the final caution waved for Bloomquist’s flat tire with 31 laps complete.
After a break to rework the track, East Bay’s action will resume at 6 p.m. with the night’s regularly scheduled Dart Winternationals finale. The 50-lap Lucas Oil Series points race pays $10,000 to the winner.
Notes: Owens drives a Mike Reece-owned Bloomquist Race Car with a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsorship from Reece Monument, Gantte Appraisals, Red Line Oil, FK Rod End and Sunoco Race Fuels. ... Owens’ previous Winternationals victory came in a daytime race in 2011. ... The afternoon's program was delayed roughly 45 minutes by a brief rain shower.
Dart Winternationals (Feb. 16): (1) Jimmy Owens, (2) Don O’Neal, (3) Eric Jacobsen, (4) John Blankenship, (5) Vic Coffey, (6) Steve Francis, (7) Billy Moyer Jr., (8) Bobby Pierce, (9) Eddie Carrier Jr., (10) Jerry Lierly, (11) Tyler Reddick, (12) David Breazeale, (13) Austin Hubbard, (14) Chad Hollenbeck, (15) Chad Stapleton, (16) Doug Blashe, (17) Donnie Moran, (18) Braden Mitchell, (19) Dennis Erb Jr., (20) Jason Riggs, (21) Ricky Weiss, (22) Jason McBride, (23) Leon Henderson, (24) Justin Rattliff, (25) Scott Bloomquist, (26) Jared Landers. Fast qualifier (among 34 cars): Owens, 15.346 seconds. Heat race winners: O'Neal, Erb, Jacobsen, Blankenship. Consolation winners: Landers, Reddick. Provisionals: Hollenbeck, Henderson.
Blog-style reports of Saturday's prelims:
The event is under a brief rain delay as a small line of showers moves over the racetrack. Rain began to fall just after 1:30 p.m. during the second consolation race. Due to the delay, race officials have cancelled the PRC Strawberry Dash and drew Leon Henderson's name from a hat to take the race's feature transfer. Chad Hollenbeck is the DirtonDirt.com fast-time provisional starter.
Tyler Reddick pressured polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. the entire distance and raced by Moyer when he pushed in turn two on lap eight. Rain began to fall over the track just after the field completed the lap, forcing officials to cut the race short. Moyer, Doug Blashe and Ricky Weiss joined Reddick in transferring to the main event.
Finish: Tyler Reddick, Billy Moyer Jr., Doug Blashe, Ricky Weiss, Doug Drown, Stormy Scott, Leon Henderson, Scott Phillips, Bob Geiger.
Jared Landers got by David Breazeale midway through the first of two 10-lap consolation races and pulled away in the remaining distance. Scott Bloomquist also got by Breazeale to finish second, forcing Breazeale to settle for third. Jason McBride took the fourth and final transfer spot. The race was slowed with one lap complete when Chad Hollenbeck got into Devin Moran, sending Moran spinning up the front straightaway. Jim O'Hara tagged the turn-one wall while trying to avoid the incident. Moran returned the favor when he used Hollenbeck as a backstop in making a pass for fifth late in the race.
Finish: Jared Landers, Scott Bloomquist, David Breazeale, Jason McBride, Devin Moran, Nick Davis, Chad Hollenbeck.
Consolation race lineups
10 laps; top four transfer to feature
Row 1: David Breazeale, Jason McBride
Row 2: Jared Landers, Scott Bloomquist
Row 3: Devin Moran, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 4: Nick Davis, Brad Malcuit
Row 5: Jim O’Hara
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Tyler Reddick
Row 2: Doug Blashe, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Doug Drown, Stormy Scott
Row 4: Scott Phillips, Leon Henderson
Row 5: Bob Geiger
Eric Jacobsen led every lap of fourth and final heat, winning by a half-straightaway advantage over Jerry Lierly in another caution-free race. Fifth-starting Justin Rattliff rallied to third on the opening lap and held the position over sixth-starting Eddie Carrier Jr. at the finish. Carrier will join the top three in transferring to the feature lineup.
Finish: Eric Jacobsen, Jerry Lierly, Justin Rattliff, Eddie Carrier Jr., Tyler Reddick, Ricky Weiss, Stormy Scott, Leon Henderson.
Dennis Erb Jr. topped a trio of No. 32s to score a flag-to-flag victory in the caution-free third heat. Vic Coffey was second at the finish, a half straightaway back of the leader. Coffey was followed by Bobby Pierce and Chad Stapleton in the race's other two transfer spot.
Finish: Dennis Erb Jr., Vic Coffey, Bobby Pierce, Chad Stapleton, Billy Moyer Jr., Doug Blashe, Doug Drown, Scott Philips, Bob Geiger
Polesitter John Blankenship cruised in the second eight-lap heat, winning by nearly a straightaway over Austin Hubbard in another caution-free prelim. Braden Mitchell moved from fifth to third on the race's opening lap and held the spot for the duration while second-starting Jason Riggs survived a near spin on the second lap to finish in the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish: John Blankenship, Austin Hubbard, Braden Mitchell, Jason Riggs, Jason McBride, Scott Bloomquist, Chad Hollenbeck, Brad Malcuit, Jim O'Hara.
Third-starting Don O'Neal dug on the bottom on the opening lap and drove by front-row starters Steve Francis and Jimmy Owens on his way to winning the first eight-lap heat race. Owens was a distant second in the caution-free race while Francis topped a back-and forth-battle with Donnie Moran to finish third. Moran settled for fourth at the finish and will join the top three in transferring to the main event.
Finish: Don O'Neal, Jimmy Owens, Steve Francis, Donnie Moran, David Breazeale, Jared Landers, Devin Moran, Nick Davis.
Needing just one lap to get it done, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., topped 33 qualifiers during time trials for the first of two Dart Winternationals events scheduled for Saturday at East Bay Raceway Park.
Owens, who elected to skip the second lap of his qualifying run, posted a lap of 15.346 seconds to earn the pole for the first of four eight-lap heat races coming up at East Bay’s third-mile oval. Other heat race polesitters: John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va.; Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill.; and Eric Jacobsen of Seacliff Beach, Calif.
Each heat race will transfer the top four finishers to the afternoon’s 35-lap, $7,000-to-win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series main event. A pair of 10-lap consolation races will each transfer four more drivers to the feature while th winner of the PRC Strawberry Dash and the DirtonDirt.com fast-time provisional starter will round out the 26-car field.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., will start from the tail of the first heat after skipping time trials. The only incidents during the session came when Braden Mitchell of Russellville, Ala., spun on his second lap and when Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., got into the turn-two wall on his second lap.
Heat race lineups
Eight laps; top four transfer to main event
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Steve Francis
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Donnie Moran
Row 3: David Breazeale, Devin Moran
Row 4: Jared Landers, Nick Davis
Row 5: Scott Bloomquist
Row 1: John Blankenship, Jason Riggs
Row 2: Austin Hubbard, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 3: Braden Mitchell, James O’Hara
Row 4: Jason McBride, Brad Malcuit
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Vic Coffey, Chad Stapleton
Row 3: Doug Drown, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Doug Blashe, Scott Phillips
Row 5: Bob Geiger
Row 1: Eric Jacobsen, Jerry Lierly
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Stormy Scott
Row 3: Justin Rattliff, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 4: Leon Henderson, Tyler Reddick
This afternoon’s action includes two-lap time trials, four eight-lap heat races, two 10-lap consolation races, the PRC Strawberry Dash and the 35-lap main event. Each heat race will transfer the top four finishers to the main event with another four drivers transferring through each consy. The PRC Strawberry Dash will add another starter while the DirtonDirt.com fast-time provisional will round out the 26-car starting field. ... Looking for his second consecutive $5,000 Dart Winternationals points title, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., enters the days action with a 35-point lead over Friday night winner Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind. Erb has yet to finish outside the top five in four events this week with a pair of victories and finishes of fourth and fifth. O’Neal has finishes of second, third and eighth to go along with his victory. ... Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and Todd Frank of Mellen, Wis., are the only drivers in the pit area that have elected to skip the day portion of Saturday’s doubleheader. ... Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Bob Geiger of Laurel, Del., are both signed in for the afternoon event but did not hot lap.
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.346
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.467
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.513
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 15.589
Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.602
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 15.628
Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.633
Chad Hollenbeck (4), Kingsley, Pa., 15.681
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 15.790
Braden Mitchell (64), Russellville, Ala., 15.865
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 15.935
Jim O’Hara (44), Moscow, Pa., 15.935
Jared Landers (5), Batesville, Ark., 15.956
Jason McBride (77m), Carbondale, Ill., 15.997
Nick Davis, (92), Gumboro, Del., 16.017
Brad Malcuit (79), Strasburg, Ohio, 16.167
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.672
Eric Jacobsen (5), Santa Cruz, Calif., 15.777
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill. 15.808
Jerry Lierly (7L), Camp Point, Ill., 15.838
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 15.894
Ricky Weiss (7w), St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba, 15.968
Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburgh, Ind., 15.972
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.000
Doug Drown (63), Wooster, Ohio, 16.010
Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 16.027
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.148
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 16.186
Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 16.188
Leon Henderson (10), Laurel, Miss., 16.401
Scott Phillips (50), Marlette, Mich., 16.514
Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 16.909
Bob Geiger (38), Laurel, Del., 17.604